The holiday season is here, and that means that a lot of people are going to be out spending money. Instead of thinking that you are completely safe, you should actually be on the alert. That’s because the holidays are the perfect time to fall prey to criminals that would love nothing more to run up debt in your name and make sure that you have to pay for it. Fraud is something that costs everyone. It costs retailers, who have to raise their prices because fraud forces them to reverse sales and thus kill their own profits. Fraud costs customers across the board as they fight to restore their good name.
Given these facts, it’s really no surprise that everyone is thinking about protection services like Lifelock. However, you might be watching your money this year. That means that you might be questioning every service that you run across to see whether or not it’s going to be a service that you can actually use. You don’t want to throw good money after bad products, and we definitely don’t blame you for wanting to really make sure that it’s going to be something that makes sense from start to finish.
The short answer here is that Lifelock can be worth it if you simply want to avoid having to do the “heavy lifting” yourself, but you’re going to be paying 10 to 15$ a month for the privilege of someone else doing something for you. As always, if you would rather have peace of mind you should definitely pursue Lifelock.
What Lifelock’s services do is put out a fraud alert on your credit report — three times. That’s because there are three credit bureaus and they all keep different information on your credit. So you’re going to need to do everything related to your credit report three time sin order to cover the three major credit bureaus. In addition to putting out the fraud alerts, they also renew them every 90 days so that they do not expire. In addition, the company helps you cancel lost credit cards, licenses, and other items that come up missing from your wallet. The Direct Marketing Association will remove your name from their pre-approved credit card offers, and provide you with a free copy of your credit report each year. These things aren’t unique to Lifelock in any way, and are simply conveniences from the service.
The trouble with Lifelock is that it’s something that you can do yourself. What’s worse than that is that they are missing a critical step in the process of theft prevention — the security freeze. This is where no one can actually alter your credit report in any way — including opening new lines of credit. It’s something that many identity theft victims should think about, but they often do not. Lifelock does not provide this service, but they really don’t come forward and say how important a security freeze is. Yes, it’s a bit of a hassle to unthaw your credit report when you want new credit but let’s face facts — in this uncertain economy, new credit is really not the best thing that you need to think about. You are a lot better off making sure that you focus on keeping identity theft thieves from taking everything you have invested in your good credit.
If you want to take matters into your own hands, you will need to be proactive. Yes, it can be hard to find time to do all of these important steps, but guess what — they are very important, and you really need to do them. You need to make absolutely sure that you are protecting your financial future. After all, it’s really no one else’s job to take care of these things except yours. You want to make sure that you get a copy of your credit report and actually read it. The Fair Credit Reporting Act allows you to get three free credit reports per year. That’s one for each of the major credit bureaus. You can also enroll in a regular credit monitoring service that will give you not only your credit report, but your credit score as well. This way you can also rebuild your credit and see your scores go up.
In addition, you also want to cut down on the level of unnecessary communication you are receiving. Switching to paperless is definitely a smart idea. Your bank shouldn’t be sending you any convenience checks, nor should they be sending you your new debit card that way. Be sure that you actually change things up by having the bank simply hold your new debit card. You can pick it up directly from the bank. Yes, this is going to be a little more of a hassle, but it does keep credit thieves from getting their hands on your debit card. It’s harder to fight fraud on the debit card level, but still doable. It’s better to just sidestep the issue completely.
Junk mail with your information on it is just as bad. You will be doing yourself a favor by cutting it out.
Let’s not forget all of the forms that are honestly asking for your SSN. Your Social Security Number is special and nobody should be just using it for the sake of using it as a unique identifier. Have them create one. If they think that you are being unreasonable, that’s fine — ask them why they need it. Ask them what law they are using to require your Social Security number in the first place. From there, you should also make sure that you’re asking who will have access to your SSN and how your information is going to be protected. If any computer system is mentioned, there should also be citations of encryptions as well. You need to know who will have access to your information, and where that information is going to be stored.
Overall, now is the time to take back your finances. Should you really do it with Lifelock? You can, but you can also save the money and do it yourself — then put the difference into your emergency fund. It needs attention, you know!